Thursday, August 23, 2012


AUGUST 23 2012

Alicia Toner said she’s always been a fan of the Charlottetown Festival.

This year, instead of taking it in as a member of the audience, the Fredericton native is up on stage.

Held from June into September in Charlottetown, the festival features professional musical theatre, including Anne of Green Gables - The Musical and Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.

Toner is one of eight featured artists in the Johnny Cash production and plays Prissy Andrews in Anne of Green Gables.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said recently from P.E.I.

“I love being back in the Maritimes for the summer. I love the Island, I love the festival. It’s been busy, but it’s been great.”

She’s seen the production of Anne of Green Gables numerous times before and said at first it was surreal performing it.

“But it’s been wonderful and the audience members appreciate theatre and music,” she said.

She said the Johnny Cash production has also been well received.

She described the show as mostly a celebration of his music, not the story of his life.

“There isn’t one particular Johnny Cash. We kind of all take on the role and pay tribute to him,” she said.

And her favourite song?

“It would have to be I Still Miss Someone,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful song and the lyrics are great. I get to sing it every night with my co-worker Ben Kunder. It just hits me.”

Toner left Fredericton after graduating from high school to attend Sheridan College in Ontario for music theatre. That was more than seven years ago. She’s now based in Toronto and travels wherever shows take her, such as Calgary, Edmonton and throughout Ontario.

She said this is her first time back in the Maritimes.

“It’s exciting to be back,” she said.

She said many of her family members have been able to come see her perform.

“That’s one of the wonderful things,” she said.

“All of my family and friends who live in the Fredericton area can finally come and see me perform.”

She said the festival feels like one big family.

“It really has been one of the best experiences I’ve had thus far in my career,” she said.

The workload for the festival has evolved over the summer. It started as eight hours per day of rehearsals for six days a week.

Once the shows are open, she said, she had a bit more free time, but she was also in workshops creating a new Canadian musical, which is a traditional part of the festival.

Since that’s finished, she’s doing eight shows a week.

“We have a little bit more time to breathe,” she said while laughing.

While the schedule can be strenuous, they can handle it, she said.

“We’re in P.E.I., it’s not too hard,” she said.

The ingredients for keeping her voice in top shape over that many performances? Getting enough sleep, not partying too often and lots of water, she said.

She still loves her career choice, but at times it can be hard not knowing where the next job will be, Toner said.

“I love travelling, and I love the job, so it’s great. I get to do what I love,” she said.

She’s heading back to Toronto after the festival, and she has another show lined up for January in Winnipeg.

The Charlottetown Festival runs until Sept. 29.

“I think everyone over in Fredericton should just come over for the shows. The Island is just going crazy for them,” she said.

“If you’ve ever loved anything about Johnny Cash, you’ll love this show. It’s worth the bridge toll to get over here.”


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